Study links Alzheimer’s risk gene APOE4 to improved visual working memory in elderly people

In the journal Nature Aging, researchers have linked the Alzheimer’s risk gene APOE4 to improved visual working memory among elderly people.

The research was conducted by University College London.

“In a population-based cohort born in one week in 1946 (assessed aged 69–71 years), we assessed differential effects of APOE ε4 and β-amyloid pathology (quantified using F-Florbetapir-PET) on visual working memory (object–location binding),” the Nature article states.

The study involved 389 participants deemed cognitively healthy. “In 398 cognitively normal participants, APOE ε4 and β-amyloid had opposing effects on object identification, predicting better and poorer recall, respectively,” the authors wrote in their findings. “ε4 carriers also recalled locations more precisely, with a greater advantage at higher β-amyloid burden.”

The findings demonstrate that ε4 carriers showed superior visual working memory, potentially being beneficial for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

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